Drivers Under 21
If you have been arrested for DUI while under the age of 21, just like with drivers over the age of 21, your arrest triggers both a court and a DMV process.
Under 21 in the Criminal Court
A driver under 21 could face three separate violations:
California Vehicle Code section 23152 (a), driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two;
California Vehicle Code section 23152 (b), driving with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08% or higher;
California Vehicle Code section 23140, driving with an alcohol level of .05% or higher while under the age of 21.
VC 23140, is an infraction. This is a critical distinction when it comes to the criminal court process, since there is no right to a jury trial.
Separate and apart from any court triggered suspension is the DMV Administrative Per Se (APS) action.
Under 21 and the DMV
Drivers who are under 21 at the time of their DUI arrest also have a DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing to contend with, and the stakes are higher than for drivers who are of legal drinking age. If the under-21 driver doesn’t request a hearing within 10 days of their arrest, or if they request the hearing and lose, they will be subjected to a one year APS suspension under California’s “zero tolerance” laws.
These DMV Hearings can be won, as the DMV must still introduce competent evidence to support its action, and that can often be successfully challenged.
If a driver is under 21 at the time of the offense and is convicted of one of these code sections, the DMV Mandatory Action Unit will impose a one-year driver’s license suspension. However, if the defendant is able to demonstrate a critical need to drive, and that public transportation is inadequate to address this need, they may be able to obtain a critical need restriction.
Under 21 and critical need
Just like with the court case, the licensee who suffers a one year DMV APS suspension can get a critical need restricted license, assuming that they can successfully show that:
Completed 30 days of the one-year suspension;
Meet all need requirements; and
That they have no reasonable access to public transportation.